Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
Second Sunday after Trinit
Mark 4. 35-end: "Fearless Faith "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Fear is a very real and profound experience. Share with one another a time when you were afraid. What steps did you or someone else take to reduce the fear and what lasting effect do you think it has had on your life?
A Window on the Text
The Sea of Galilee is well known for storms which can rise up quickly and with little warning. The geography of the area, with its high summits and deep ravines, mean that wind can become caught in such a way that it rushes with great force through narrow spaces and then disturbs the water as it is released across the surface. Sailors are only too aware of and familiar with these sudden and dramatic experiences of nature.
The story of Jesus with his disciples in the boat illustrates the experience of the early church communities as they were establishing themselves. The boat is a description of the church. It is small and vulnerable, and could easily be lost, as it battles against the storms of opposition, suspicion and hostility. The community was very aware of the looming ‘storm’ clouds and threat of destruction at the hands of the Roman authorities.
Crossing to ‘the other side’ brings to the fore the missionary task of the church as it moves into Gentile territory. There’s an obstacle to overcome before engaging in mission – the Sea - understood at the time as the territory of the great evil sea monster – Leviathan (see e.g. Psalm 104:4-26). The task of bringing together into one, people from very different cultural backgrounds is immense and fraught with difficulties. But Christ is able to bring reconciliation and create a community in which all are included – even the Gentiles from the ‘other side’.
A further important feature of the story lies in the fact that whatever storms we may experience, if we live close to Christ, then in his presence, we shall find peace. To journey with Christ is to journey in peace even in a storm. This passage was used by the early church to give encouragement, to sustain those struggling communities in the knowledge that the storms they were experiencing would not overcome them, rather that peace would prevail. That same peace is available to us today.
Responding as a community
- What are the storms you currently face in your own lives and in the life of your community or church?
- What threat to peace do they pose? How are you and others reacting to them?
- Where are the signs of faith and trust to be found?
- Where is the mission challenge for your church community? What barriers need to be overcome to reach out and include others?
In our prayers, we place into the presence of God those known to us who feel their lives are being battered by a storm which threatens to overwhelm them.
- Those facing serious illness, surgery or treatment
- Those bereaved and finding it difficult to adjust their lives to the reality of separation and loss
- Those whose relationships have broken down and there are feelings of betrayal, bitterness and anger.
Pray also for the mission of your church community to those you have identified in the discussion as being ‘on the other side’.
One of the important sections in the story comes towards the end (Verse 40) where Jesus challenges the disciples to relate their faith (in this case its absence) with the fear they were experiencing. This raises an important question. Is fear a sign of lack of faith?
Life can present overwhelming difficulties and challenges that can drain us when we fear the worse. But at the same time, faith and trust in God should remind us of what St Paul wrote – “Nothing in life or death can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8)
When John Wesley was sailing to America a terrible storm threatened the ship he was travelling on. He was deeply afraid, fearing that the ship would sink and everyone on board would die. A group of Moravian Christians were also travelling and during the storm they sang and prayed. It was a remarkable demonstration of faith and trust and the experience left a deep impression on Wesley as he recognised that he lacked such faith and trust. Here were a group of Christians who lived their lives so close to Jesus that even in the midst of the storm they knew peace that came from his presence in their lives.
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion